Flexibility varies from person to person. Although our basic structure is similar, each person is unique. Many factors contribute to flexibility—height, gender, environment, daily activities, posture, gait, hydration, and so much more. Obviously, there is no magic trick that will fix this issue, but I am going to provide a few helpful tips that can help increase flexibility.
Sitting for long periods of times can be tough on the body, so make sure to get up and walk around throughout the day. The body was not designed to sit in front of a computer, on the couch, or at a desk all day. Make an effort to move every waking hour.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
The body is composed mostly of water, so give your body what it needs. There are many benefits to staying hydrated, especially to our muscles. For our muscles to respond to flexibility training, they must be hydrated. Optimal flexibility will be achieved when the body is well hydrated.
3. Start with the Feet
The feet carry our entire body weight, so find time to stretch, nurture, and move your feet outside of shoes. The feet are a reflection of the body. If the feet are stiff, the body will be stiff.
Focus on movement. As the body moves, blood will pump throughout the body increasing circulation to the muscles. Massaging the body is a perfect way to increase circulation. If you are not interested in getting a professional massage, use a foam roller, lacross ball, or rolling pin on the tight areas of your body. This movement will help release knots and increase circulation to the affected area. Bringing blood to an area helps it to heal.
In the morning, take a big yawn and stretch out those stiff muscles. Believe me; performing this simple task can do wonders for the body. Feeling sluggish or tight all over? Put your arms in the air, lift the rib cage to open the lungs and yawn. I was once advised to yawn 19 times a day.
6. Full Range of Motion
If your goal is to achieve long lean muscles, don’t cheat yourself by only performing exercises at half range of motion. Make sure you perform your full or beyond range of motion with each movement. That extra inch can really make a difference.
7. Buddy Stretch/CANDY
In the workshops and trainings I teach, I often give individuals hands on assistance at stretching. This simple task forces their body to go a little further into their stretch. The body often needs a little encouragement to dig deeper. I call this assistance candy because it feels so good. Joseph Pilates was known to do the same thing, but, often, with more force!
You must, must, must learn to breathe deeply and exhale completely. Breath is the first and last act of life and for the body to work properly and become supple, you must breathe and let go.
If you are constantly pushing your body, this one is for you. You have to have to let your body recover and repair. If you are constantly breaking down the muscles without recovery they will tighten up and work against you. You will never achieve flexibility unless you allow your muscles to recover and repair.
10. Trust Your Body
For many people, negative self-talk is holding them back from achieving maximum flexibility. This is often the most challenging aspect of achieving a goal. Instead of thinking “I can’t” say “I’ll try” or “I can”. Mind over matter is powerful. With positive thinking, you can achieve anything. Try it; you will be surprised at the outcome. It takes practice, patience, and persistence on your part, but anything is possible if you believe in yourself. It all starts from within.